Santa Monica

Travel Guide North America USA Western United States California Southern California Los Angeles County Santa Monica



Rollercoaster, Santa Monica

Rollercoaster, Santa Monica

© Utrecht

Santa Monica is a city itself rather than part of the city of Los Angeles. It basically is the playground for the beach bums in the LA. Most of the action in Santa Monica is centred around the Santa Monica Pier, where the official end of Route 66 is located. The pier, with its activities like rollercoasters and all sorts of shops, splits the beach into two halves. The northern one is less attractive and most parking takes place there. The southern half, towards Venice Beach, is more attractive, with cycle- and footpaths and palm trees. The water here is pretty cold like most of the Californian coast, and watch out for riptides or strong currents at times. There are lifeguards patrolling around the waters, but better safe than sorry!



Sights and Activities

  • Santa Monica Pier (Ocean Front Walk At Seaside Terrace). A bustling boardwalk whose huge Ferris Wheel is the city's icon, with terrific coastline views of Malibu and the Southbay. The long pier holds Pacific Park, an old-fashioned amusement park with reasonable by-the-ride pricing, including a small roller coaster and the Ferris wheel. The Pier has restaurants, bars, souvenir shops, and some street performers. At almost all hours you'll find at least a few people fishing as well. The Pier is within easy walking distance to the Promenade.
  • Santa Monica Beach. A large, wide, beautiful beach on either side of the pier. Perry's rents bikes and roller blades or bring your own for use on the world famous *strand* that links all of the Westside beach cities. For some of the best people watching in the world, follow the strand south a couple of miles to Venice Beach. Hire a bike or skates and travel along the cycle path (there are a number of shops to hire from around and on the pier).
  • Bergamot Station Arts Center, 2525 Michigan Ave, ☎ +1 310 453-7535. M 9AM-4PM, Tu-F 9AM-5PM, Sa 10AM-5PM (Individual galleries may have different hours). Over 30 art galleries, including the Santa Monica Museum of Art. Free.
  • Museum of Flying, 3100 Airport Ave (at Santa Monica Airport (KSMO)), ☎ +1 310-398-2500. Fri-Sun 10AM-5PM. Centered around artifacts from the Douglas Aircraft Company, which used to manufacture iconic aircraft like the DC-3 at the Santa Monica Airport. It includes many aircraft in static display, from a replica Wright Flyer to WWII fighters to the microjet which appeared in the James Bond film Octopussy. "Rides" in a full-motion flight simulator are $8 each. $10 Adults.
  • View Decks at Santa Monica Airport (KSMO), 3223 Donald Douglas Loop South (On the north and south sides of the Administration Building), ☎ +1 310-458-8411. dawn-dusk, daily. Open air-decks with picnic tables. Watch and photograph the airplanes as they come and go at the airport. Listen to Air Traffic Control on loudspeakers. Bring a picnic lunch. Also, Clover Park, at the corner of 25th Street and Ocean Park Boulevard, has a viewing area with a telescope focused on the runway. Free



Events and Festivals


  • New Year’s Eve - The US celebrates the outgoing of the old year and incoming of the New Year quite dramatically. Every state boasts its own parties to ring in the New Year, but none is more extravagant than New York’s Time Square, which sees people overflowing into the neighboring restaurants, bars, parks, beaches, and neighborhoods.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day (officially Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. and sometimes referred to as MLK Day) is an American federal holiday marking the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is around King's birthday, January 15. The holiday is similar to holidays set under the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. The earliest Monday for this holiday is January 15 and the latest is January 21. King was the chief spokesperson for nonviolent activism in the Civil Rights Movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law.
  • St Patrick’s Day - March 17 celebrates the US’s large Irish population. Many cities around the country boast boisterous parades and Irish-themed parties, especially New York and Chicago, where the river is dyed green. Be wary of the drunkenness that dominates as this is definitely a party-day.
  • Memorial Day - Memorial Day is an important holiday throughout the United States, but not for crazy festivities. Parades commemorating wartime heroes are often held and the day is also the ‘unofficial’ start of summer. Most visitors follow the crowds to parks and beaches, which are capped off with informal BBQs.
  • Independence Day - Also known as the Fourth of July, Independence Day celebrates the US’s break from the British during the 18th century. Barbecues, street parties, beach trips, and weekend getaways are commonplace to appreciate freedom.
  • Labor Day is a public holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September. It honors the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws, and well-being of the country. It is the Monday of the long weekend known as Labor Day Weekend. It is recognized as a federal holiday. Beginning in the late 19th century, as the trade union and labor movements grew, trade unionists proposed that a day be set aside to celebrate labor.
  • Halloween - Halloween is a fun holiday on October 31 for all generations to dress up in costumes and relive their youth. Children walk around the neighborhood trick-or-treating for candy, while adults attend parties. Other seasonal events include haunted houses, pumpkin farms and carving, and corn mazes.
  • Thanksgiving - On the fourth Thursday in November, Thanksgiving is held in almost every home in the US. Tourists will have a hard time finding anything to do as the country essentially shuts down in observation. A typical Thanksgiving meal consists of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie commemorating the original Pilgrim’s feast at Plymouth Rock.
  • Christmas - On December 25, Christians celebrate Christmas as the pinnacle of their calendar by attending church and opening gifts from Santa Claus. Almost everything shuts down to promote family togetherness. The northern regions hope to experience a “white Christmas,” with trees and festive lights blanketed by snow.


  • Super Bowl Sunday - the world’s most watched sporting event and one of the highest grossing TV days of the year, Superbowl Sunday is a spectacular extravaganza. Held the first Sunday in February, the Superbowl is the final playoff game between the NFL’s top two teams. The venue rotates every year around America, yet the local parties seem to remain. Pubs, bars and restaurants are great places to enjoy the Superbowl or locals throw their own parties with different variations of betting.
  • The World Series is the annual championship series of Major League Baseball (MLB) in North America, contested since 1903 between the American League (AL) champion team and the National League (NL) champion team. The winner of the World Series championship is determined through a best-of-seven playoff, and the winning team is awarded the Commissioner's Trophy. As the series is played during the fall season in North America, it is sometimes referred to as the Fall Classic.




Santa Monica has a coastal Mediterranean climate (Köppen Csb). Santa Monica enjoys an average of 310 days of sunshine a year. Because of its location, nestled on the vast and open Santa Monica Bay, morning fog is a common phenomenon in May, June and early July (caused by ocean temperature variations and currents). Like other inhabitants of the greater Los Angeles area, residents have a particular terminology for this phenomenon: the "May Gray" and the "June Gloom". Overcast skies are common during June mornings, but usually the strong sun burns the fog off by noon. In the late winter/early summer, daily fog is a phenomenon too. It happens suddenly and it may last some hours or past sunset time. Nonetheless, it will sometimes stay cloudy and cool all day during June, even as other parts of the Los Angeles area enjoy sunny skies and warmer temperatures. At times, the sun can be shining east of 20th Street, while the beach area is overcast. As a general rule, the beach temperature is from 5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit (3 to 6 degrees Celsius) cooler than it is inland during summer days, and 5–10 degrees warmer during winter nights.

It is also in September highest temperatures tend to be reached. It is winter, however, when the hot, dry winds of the Santa Anas are most common. In contrast, temperatures exceeding 10 degrees below average are rare.

The rainy season is from late October through late March. Winter storms usually approach from the northwest and pass quickly through the Southland. There is very little rain during the rest of the year. Yearly rainfall totals are unpredictable as rainy years are occasionally followed by droughts. There has never been any snow or frost, but there has been hail.

Santa Monica usually enjoys cool breezes blowing in from the ocean, which tend to keep the air fresh and clean. Therefore, smog is less of a problem for Santa Monica than elsewhere around Los Angeles. However, in the autumn months of September through November, the Santa Ana winds will sometimes blow from the east, bringing smoggy and hot inland air to the beaches.



Getting There

By Plane

Los Angeles is served by more airports than any other city in the world. The main airport however is Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). It is one of the busiest airports in the world, handling over 60 million passengers a year. LAX is located in southwestern Los Angeles in the neighborhood of Westchester, 27 kilometres from the downtown core. The airport has 9 terminals: number 1 to 8 and the Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT), serving hundreds of destinations within the US and to Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia, Europe and Oceania.

Other airports in the area include Bob Hope Airport (BUR) in Burbank to the north (about 15 minutes from Los Angeles city) and LA/Ontario International Airport (ONT) (about 45 minutes away) to the east.

By Car

Santa Monica is located at the western terminus of the 10 (Santa Monica) Freeway, about 20 miles west of downtown Los Angeles and 7 miles north of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). The city is roughly bounded by Centinela Blvd to the east, Ocean Park Blvd to the south, San Vicente Blvd to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the west.

The tourist center of Santa Monica is the downtown area located near the famous Santa Monica Pier, which was once the western end of historic Route 66. By car, take the 10 Freeway to the 4th/5th Street exit, then head left toward the ocean. From the north, turn left off the Pacific Coast Highway (California 1) at the California Incline, which deposits you just a few blocks north of the pier.

By Public Transport

The county-wide Metro public transit agency offers service to Santa Monica from throughout the Los Angeles region. Santa Monica is the western terminus for the Metro Rail Expo Line, which runs out to Culver City, Exposition Park, and onward to Downtown LA. The line ends in Downtown Santa Monica at Colorado Avenue and 4th Street, just a few blocks from the Santa Monica Pier. Prominent Metro bus lines to Santa Monica include the 20/720 via Wilshire Boulevard from Downtown LA and the 04/704 via Sunset Boulevard and Santa Monica Boulevard from Union Station in Downtown LA. Lines 720 and 704 are Rapid lines which stop only at major intersections, making them faster than their local-stop counterparts 20 and 04 (however, the 20 and 04 run later into the evening). Service tends to be every ten to twenty minutes. Metro fare is $1.75.

Santa Monica is also served by its own Big Blue Bus, which runs bus lines to surrounding neighborhoods such as Venice Beach and West Los Angeles, as well as an express line to Downtown LA (requires extra fare). Local fare is $1.25, with a day pass costing $4, both of which can be purchased from the driver onboard the bus. The reusable TAP card is good on both Metro and Big Blue Bus.



Getting Around

Many of Santa Monica's tourist destinations are within easy walking distance of each other. The city Big Blue Bus system operates a number of lines that link not only places within the city, but also neighboring Brentwood, Westwood and Venice Beach, making Santa Monica one of the relatively few places in Los Angeles where one needn't drive to get around. Traffic is very heavy in the downtown area, and during rush hour and weekends the city's main arterial streets (Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica Blvd, Lincoln Blvd) are choked with cars. Santa Monica also has a fairly extensive bike share system, Breeze, with bike stations throughout Santa Monica and adjacent Venice Beach.




Very diverse food selection, from high-end cuisine to burgers and tacos.

  • Bay Cities Italian Deli, 1517 Lincoln Blvd, ☎ +1 310 395-8279. Some of the best sandwiches on the west side. There will be a long wait during peak hours, so browse the authentic Italian market after you take your number, or go online, view the menu, and call in your order in advance. edit
  • Bagel Nosh Deli, 1629 Wilshire Blvd, ☎ +1 310-451-8771. M-F 6:30AM-2:30PM, Sa & Su 7:30AM-3PM. Serving breakfast, lunch, and hand-rolled bagels since 1978.
  • Pradeep's, 1405 Montana Ave, ☎ +1 310-395-6675. Offers Indian Cuisine with a California consciousness. Emphasis is on healthy, so sauces are lighter, but flavor is still great.
  • Snug Harbor, 2323 Wilshire Blvd, ☎ +1 310-828-2991. 6AM-3PM. A great breakfast place! A small "hole in the wall" with a relaxed atmosphere and competent service, you'll find many locals trying to wake up on Saturdays and Sundays. Offering up traditional bacon and eggs with a twist the food is fresh and good. Meat lovers should try Uncle Zeke's scramble.
  • Tacos Por Favor, 1406 Olympic Blvd, ☎ +1 310 392-5768. Mon-Sat 8AM-8PM closed Sundays. Fresh, cooked to order Mexican food in a taqueria atmosphere. It features good tacos and an excellent chicken mole burrito. Don't miss the pickled carrots and jalepeños in the salsa bar.
  • Rae's Restaurant, 2901 Pico Blvd, ☎ +1 (310) 828-7937. 6:30 AM to 4:00 pm 7 days. Cheap, hearty diner food. Breakfast and lunch only. Quentin Tarantino fans may recognize the interior from Reservoir Dogs, or the exterior from True Romance.
  • Blue Plate, 1415 Montana Ave, ☎ +1 310-260-8877. Blue Plate is a small, cozy neighborhood eatery that serves great American comfort food. Located in the heart of Montana Avenue, Blue Plate is close to many hip boutiques and is a great rest stop after a day of shopping. An added plus: the menu is kid-friendly, offering healthy items for kids as well as organic baby food. The turkey meatballs and mac 'n cheese are a must-try. Menu items range from $10-15.
  • El Cholo, 1025 Wilshire Blvd (11th and Wilshire). A Los Angeles institution and this Santa Monica branch offers great margaritas and wonderful traditional Mexican food. The green corn tamales, available from May to October each year, are a specialty.
  • Solidarity Restaurant, 1414 Lincoln Blvd, ☎ +1 310-393-8831. Authentic Polish food can be found on Lincoln with a signature dish of roast duck. They have a fantastic outdoor patio in the back where you can get a great vodka martini.
  • The Lobster, 1602 Ocean Ave (Colorado Blvd & the Santa Monica Pier), ☎ +1 310-458-9294. One of the few restaurants in Santa Monica that actually has a view of the Pacific Ocean. Located at the Eastern end of the Santa Monica Pier, The Lobster provides good seafood dishes, great cocktails and a little bit of a scene. While a little noisy and on the expensive side ($120+ for two with alcohol), the food, fun and view can make it worthwhile.
  • Michael's, 1147 Third St. Along with Chez Panisse in Berkeley, lead the nouvelle cuisine movement. Using fresh vegetables from the Santa Monica Farmer's Market, locally caught fish and excellent meats every dish is sublime. While not cheap, a meal at Michael's does not disappoint.
  • Melisse, 1104 Wilshire Blvd, ☎ +1 310-395-0881. Also featuring organic, locally grown produce and two tasting menus (including a vegetarian version), Melisse is Chef Josiah Citrin latest world class restaurant. The food is outstanding and gets the highest marks in Zagat and Michelin. $100 per person at a minimum.
  • Ocean and Vine, 1700 Ocean Ave. Chic restaurant and lounge at Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel. "farm-to-table" approach, California cuisine.
  • The Penthouse, 1111 Second St, ☎ +1 310-393-8080. A rooftop Santa Monica restaurant located on the 18th floor of The Huntley Hotel. Offers a bar and lounge and panoramic ocean views. Menu features contemporary American cuisine with global influences from Asia and Brazil. Serves breakfast, lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. Happy Hour Monday through Friday from 4 to 7PM. Also available for private events.




Santa Monica offers over 50 Happy Hour specials all over town, from dive bars to the high end hotels.

Unfortunately since LA and specifically the west side of LA is famous the world over for its night life going out and drinking in Santa Monica is expensive, normal prices for a domestic beer are $5 and martinis frequently range over $15.

  • Fathers Office, 1018 Montana Ave (near 10th & Montana), ☎ +1 310-323-BEER (2337). Best Burgers in Santa Monica in this tiny and wildly popular pub. Offers beers from over 20 different micro-breweries, a nice wine selection, but alas no full bar. The other downside is that its a small space and very popular so long lines quickly spring up. Don't try to change any of the items on the burger - it's their way or the highway. For fun, try to sneak in ketchup.
  • Britannia Pub, 318 Santa Monica Blvd (near 3rd Street Promenade), ☎ +1 310-458-5350. Small but very friendly Brit style pub, popular with locals and budget travelers. Good and cheap snacks and meals.
  • Circle Bar, 2926 Main St, ☎ +1 310-450-0508, e-mail: [email protected]. This is a deep dark space that as you would imagine has a circular bar, popular with the twenty-something I drink too much crowd.
  • O'Brien's Irish Pub, 2941 Main St, ☎ +1 310 396-4725. This is your typical Irish pub, but BIG! IT has 4 parts really. The outside patio, the front seating area, the bar, and the back room with the stage. There is almost always live music on the stage, ranging from punk rock bands to acoustic sing-alongs.
  • Cock N Bull Pub, 2947 Lincoln Blvd, ☎ +1 310 399-9696. Referred to as "the most OG English bar in LA" by espn's page 2, the Cock and Bull Serves typical British pub fair, has a wide array of beer on tap, and authentic British bar tenders. Although it can be quiet on the week nights this bar rapidly fills up when ever a quality soccer (football to the rest of the world) match or rugby game is on the TV, regardless of what time it is on, during the World Cup lines started forming at 4AM.
  • Wokcano, 1413 5th St (near Third Street), ☎ +1 310-458-3080. Wokcano offers indoor and outdoors seating in a cosmopolitan atmosphere.
  • Ye Olde Kings Head (Kings Head), 132 Santa Monica Blvd, ☎ +1 310 451-1402. British style pub that is a notable hangout for tourists, celebrities and locals. Favorite amongst local Brits to watch football and play pub quiz on Tuesdays. Has excellent fish and chips.
  • Library Ale House, 2911 Main St. Carries lots of interesting beer on tap. Food is mid-scale pub style.
  • V Lounge, 2020 Wilshire Blvd (20th & Wilshire), ☎ +1 310-829-1933. Santa Monica's largest dance club, with a huge sunken dance floor. DJs spin pulsating Top 40, hip-hop, R&B and rock, with a down-to-earth crowd who wants to avoid the hassle of the Hollywood scene.




  • Bayside Hotel, 2001 Ocean Ave, ☎ +1 310 396-6000, toll-free: +1-800-525-4447. $75-140.
  • Ocean Park Inn, 2452 Lincoln Blvd, ☎ +1 310 392-3966, toll-free: +1-800-605-5005, fax: +1 310 399-0502. $70-85.
  • HI Los Angeles/Santa Monica, 1436 Second St (on 2nd Street between Santa Monica Blvd and Broadway), ☎ +1 310 393-9913, fax: +1 310 393-1769, e-mail: [email protected]. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. Hostel/backpacker style accommodation. 200 beds, clean, safe, plenty of activities. Linen incl. towel provided, the bed is even made for you $30+.
  • Palm Motel, 2020 14th St, ☎ +1 310 452-3861, fax: +1 310 450-8635. $65-95.
  • Seaview Hotel, 1760 Ocean Ave, ☎ +1 310 393-6711. A 1950s art deco gem one block from the ocean. The rooms are upgraded with fresh colors, cozy fibers and trendy furniture. Each room includes free wireless, flat screen TV's and free maid service. $88-125.
  • , 1920 Santa Monica Blvd, ☎ +1 310 829-9100, fax: +1 310 829-9211. $90-160.
  • Ocean View Hotel Santa Monica, 1447 Ocean Ave, ☎ +1 310 458-4888, toll-free: +1-800-452-4888, fax: +1 310 458-0848. $100-250.
  • Wyndam Santa Monica, 120 Colorado Ave, ☎ +1 310 451-0676, toll-free: +1-800-947-9175, fax: +1 310 393-7145. Hotel is quaint, comfortable and some rooms have a partial ocean view. $180-280.
  • Sheraton Delfina, 530 Pico Blvd, ☎ +1 310 399-9344.
  • Ambrose Hotel, 1255 20th St, ☎ +1 310 315-1555. While 20 blocks from the beach, the Ambrose Hotel offers great style and comfort for less than the large beach-front hotels. Very convenient if visiting someone at St. John's Santa Monica Hospital. $175+. edit
  • Casa del Mar, 1910 Ocean Way, ☎ +1 310 581-5533, toll-free: +1-800-898-6999, fax: +1 310-581-5503, e-mail: [email protected]. One of the only hotels in Santa Monica that is directly on the Beach and has prices that reflect this rare amenity. Share pools, spas, etc. with Shutters. edit
  • The Fairmont, 101 Wilshire Blvd, ☎ +1 310 576-7777, toll-free: +1-800-866-5577, fax: +1 310 458-7912. A great hotel, but it only has ocean views. $290-730.
  • The Huntley, 1111 Second St, ☎ +1 310-394-5454. A luxury hotel featuring a business center, fitness facilities, concierge service, and fine dining at The Penthouse.
  • JW Marriott Santa Monica Le Merigot, 1740 Ocean Ave, ☎ +1 310 395-9700, toll-free: +1-877-637-446, fax: +1 310 395-9200. $300-1200. edit
  • Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel, 1700 Ocean Ave. A beachfront resort overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
  • Viceroy Hotel, 1819 Ocean Ave, ☎ +1 310 260-7500, toll-free: +1-800-670-6185. The Viceroy Hotel is perfect for travellers who are seeking an ultra-hip experience and don't have any budget restrictions. One block from the beach, the Viceroy still is able to command $300+ per night because of its status as "One of the 50 hottest hotels in the world". $300+.
  • Georgian Hotel, 1415 Ocean Ave, ☎ +1 310 395-9945, toll-free: +1-800-538-8147. The Georgian Hotel is an Art Deco classic that dates back to the 1920s. Rooms are smaller and prices are not cheap, but it is a great place to stay. $200-400.
  • Shangri-la Hotel, 1301 Ocean Ave, ☎ +1 310 394-2791. The Shangri-la Hotel has huge rooms, ocean views, and free parking for guests.
  • Shutters, 1 Pico Blvd, ☎ +1 310 458-0030, toll-free: +1-800-334-9000, fax: +1 310 899-1652. One of the only hotels in Santa Monica that is directly on the beach. Share pools, spas, etc. with Casa del Mar. $450+.
  • Oceana Santa Monica, 849 Ocean Ave, ☎ +1 310 393-0486. Oceana Santa Monica is a boutique hotel featuring a restaurant open only to guests.

You can use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)



Keep Connected


There is a very small internet bar/cafe culture in the USA. Even then most of the internet bars/cafes tend be located in major urban centers. Accessible WiFi networks, however, are common. The most generally useful WiFi spots are in coffee shops, fast-food chains, and bookshops, but also restaurants and hotels more and more have a network to connect on. Some of them might require you to buy something and you might need a password too, especially in hotels.


See also International Telephone Calls

The general emergency phone number is 911. The USA has a great landline phone system that is easy to use. The country code for the U.S. is +1. The rest of the telephone number consists of 10 digits: a 3-digit area code, and a 7-digit number. Any small grocery store or pharmacy has pre paid domestic or international phone cards. These phone cards are very cheap and offer good rates. The once ubiquitous pay phone is now much harder to find. Likely locations include in or near stores and restaurants, and near bus stops. The cellphone network in the states is slowly getting better but is still not as good when compared to other western countries. Cell phones tend to operate using different frequencies (850 MHz and 1900 MHz) from those used elsewhere in the world (2100 MHz). This used to prevent most foreign phones from working in America. Phones must be tri- or quad-band to work in the U.S. Fortunately, technology has meant that most phones should now be able to pick up one of the U.S. networks. Prepaid phones and top-up cards can be purchased at mobile phone boutiques and at many discount, electronics, office supply and convenience stores. A very basic handset with some credit can be had for under $40.


The US Postal Service is a very good and well priced mail system. There are post offices in every small and large town for sending packages internationally or domestically. Although some might keep longer hours, most are open at least between 9:00am and 5:00pm. If wanting to send a letter or postcard it is best just to leave it in a blue mail box with the proper postage. First-class international airmail postcards and letters (up 28.5 grams) cost $1.10. There are also private postal services like FedEx, UPS, TNT and DHL, which might be better value sometimes and are generally very quick and reliable too.


Accommodation in Santa Monica

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Santa Monica searchable right here on Travellerspoint.


as well as hasbeen (1%)

Santa Monica Travel Helpers

We don't currently have any Travel Helpers for Santa Monica

This is version 8. Last edited at 9:40 on Jun 14, 19 by Utrecht. 8 articles link to this page.

Creative Commons License
Except where otherwise noted, content of this article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License